As an Etsy seller, your business is a source of income, your outlet to create, and most importantly, your passion. Value your business on Etsy by taking complete ownership of it and protecting all of your hard work and investment.
Know the limitations and barriers that could put your business at risk on Etsy. Don’t leave your Etsy shop vulnerable to a third party that does not value it as much as you do. You’ve read the stories and know the reasons. Save yourself from becoming another unfortunate story – make an action plan and take control of your online business today.
Explore beyond Etsy
Where does Etsy end, and where does your business begin?
Making a transition does not mean you should abandon Etsy or your loyal customer base. It means expanding what you have created through your hard work and dedication by growing your brand beyond Etsy. Start thinking of your Etsy shop as a selling channel. Make a plan to create a second selling channel in addition to your Etsy shop. It is a smart business decision that reduces risk when your Etsy shop is your only business income stream.
When building your brand, customer base, social media engagement, and email marketing list, drive the traffic you work hard to generate to your own website, not to Etsy.
Don’t let the cost and fear of technology prevent you from making an investment in growing your online business. A meaningful investment is important for your immediate and future success. Investing in a website does not happen overnight. With careful planning, finding the right e-commerce solution that fits your budget and business need is worth your time.
Benefits of having your own website to conduct and grow your business:
- Build your brand identity and recognition while increasing professionalism and credibility
- Control and customize your content without fear of violating Etsy terms and conditions
- Share your personal and business story in depth
- Showcase your products creatively and integrate stories between your shop and blog seamlessly
- Flexibility to promote craft shows, wholesale opportunities, and other revenue sources to build your business
- Protect your brand and products from copycats that undercut your price and quality
- Manage and have complete control over your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy
- Control and direct your marketing efforts that are 100% devoted to your products and not be forced into offsite ads
- Plan for future growth and expansion under your own terms
How to transition from Etsy to your own website
- Choose a platform: There are many different platforms that you can use to create your own website. Some popular options include Big Cartel, Shopify, Wix, and Squarespace. When choosing a platform, it is important to consider your needs and budget.
- Design your website: Once you have chosen a platform, you can start designing your website. This includes choosing a theme, adding content, and setting up your store. There are many resources available to help you with this process.
- Market your website: Once your website is up and running, you need to start marketing it. This can be done through online and offline channels. Some popular online marketing channels include search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, and email marketing. Offline marketing channels include print advertising, direct mail, and public relations.
- Provide excellent customer service: One of the best ways to keep customers coming back is to provide excellent customer service. This includes responding to customer inquiries promptly, resolving issues quickly, and going the extra mile to make sure that customers are happy.
Additional tips for making the transition from Etsy to your own website:
- Don’t abandon your Etsy shop: Even after you have launched your own website, you should not abandon your Etsy shop. This is because Etsy still has a large audience of potential customers. You can use your Etsy shop to drive traffic to your website.
- Promote your website on Etsy: You can promote your website on Etsy by adding a link to it in your shop’s About section. You can also include a link to your website in your product listings.
- Use the same branding on both your Etsy shop and your website: This will help customers to recognize your brand and remember where they found you.
- Keep your website up-to-date: This includes adding new products, updating your content, and fixing any errors.
First and foremost, I believe a self-hosted WordPress website is the best and most affordable long-term option for managing and maintaining an e-commerce business website. However, for a new and up-and-coming e-commerce business, a self-hosted website may not be an immediate solution to creating your own website.
The following fully hosted e-commerce solutions are cost-effective and have everything you need to operate an online store: shopping cart and payment processor, web hosting, security, and support.
I recommend Big Cartel as an alternative to Etsy. At its core, Big Cartel is a fully hosted shopping cart solution. Big Cartel was made to help artists, makers, and small brands open a store and start making a living doing what they love. While Etsy moves further away from being a community for artists and makers, Big Cartel embraces it. For Etsy sellers looking to take the next step to have their own website, Big Cartel would be a natural progression as a low-risk and affordable option.
In terms of flexibility and having a personalized site, Big Cartel gets the job done. It offers three pricing plans from free to $19.99/month for up to 500 products. There are no listing or transaction fees – just one flat monthly fee depending on the plan you choose. Big Cartel features include custom domain, premade and custom theme templates, apps & integration capability, real-time stats, inventory tracking, and a host of other seller tools to manage your online business.
Unlike Etsy, Big Cartel gives the seller customized templates and a seamless front-end experience right out of the box. You can create pages (about, faqs, contact, etc.) for doing business. It’s also far less intimidating to learn and the ease of use compared to the more popular hosted shopping cart options is a plus for artists and makers that want to spend more time creating than building a website.
Pairing Big Cartel with an Etsy shop can give a seller an added sense of security of knowing that if their Etsy shop should ever become unavailable, the seller will have an alternative shop already in place. It is also a great training ground to learn how to market and sell from an independent platform due to its low-risk start-up cost and ease of use.
Big Cartel is not a perfect solution, but it is a viable one that I highly recommend for artists and makers who are ready to expand beyond Etsy and want to learn how to become an independent online store without the benefit of a marketplace. Big Cartel has its own terms and conditions, but unlike Etsy, they will not question or challenge your integrity as a maker or threaten to shut down your shop without warning.
Before choosing Big Cartel, here are some disadvantages to consider.
- If you’re selling mass quantities, Big Cartel will not be able to fill your needs due to limited scalability and integrations. However, if you’re an Etsy seller looking to build your brand outside of the Etsy marketplace that does not require a lot of advanced features, Big Cartel might be just what you need to establish an independent e-commerce website.
- Unlike Etsy and other e-commerce options, Big Cartel does not have a customer review or rating capability. Customer reviews are important to start building trust with potential customers. Update: Big Cartel now offers a theme add-on via Powr.io to add customer reviews to your Big Cartel website.
- Big Cartel does not have a blogging capability. If you want to maintain a full website with a blog on your domain URL, I recommend setting up your domain URL on WordPress.com (or another blogging platform) with the domain mapping option. That way you can maintain a website on WordPress.com (e.g. bluebox.com) that you can use to direct customers to your shop website (shop.bluebox.com) or create a subdomain for your blog (blog.bluebox.com) and use the main domain for the shop (bluebox.com), the choice is yours. Because you will be using two platforms, switching between the two will not be seamless. However, many Etsy sellers maintain a separate blog already, so this limitation may not be a showstopper for some Etsy sellers.
Big Cartel is my preferred hosted e-commerce solution for Etsy sellers to maintain their own websites. It’s an easy-to-use platform with good customer support and fast response time, and affordable prices.
Shopify is a popular fully hosted e-commerce platform that offers a wide range of features and benefits for businesses of all sizes.
As of 2023, Shopify has 4.12 million online stores. This growth is due to the one-stop-shop to set up an online store It is straightforward to use and has a clean and intuitive interface. In addition to Shopify’s core functionality, it has an app store that store owners can access to obtain free or premium apps to improve functionality and add features to their store. Another benefit of Shopify is the print-on-demand and dropshipping capabilities.
Here are some of the key benefits of using Shopify:
- Ease of use: Shopify is a very easy-to-use platform, even for those with no technical experience. The user-friendly interface makes it simple to add products, create discounts, and process orders.
- Scalability: Shopify is a scalable platform that can grow with your business. As your business grows, you can easily add more products, increase your inventory, and expand into new markets.
- Security: Shopify is a secure platform that protects your customers’ sensitive data. Shopify uses a variety of security measures to protect your data, including PCI compliance, SSL certificates, and fraud protection.
- Marketing tools: Shopify offers a variety of marketing tools to help you promote your business and reach new customers. These tools include email marketing, social media integration, and SEO optimization.
- Support: Shopify offers 24/7 support to help you with any problems you may encounter. This support can be accessed through phone, email, or live chat.
Shopify offers a 3-day trial with no credit card. Then they offer $1 for three months as an introduction to the platform. Shopify has three pricing plans.
- Basic ($39 month): Everything you need to create your store, ship products, and process payments
- Shopify ($105 month): Level up your business with professional reporting and more staff accounts
- Advanced ($399 month): Get the best of Shopify with custom reporting and our lowest transaction fees
Before choosing Shopify, consider some of the disadvantages.
- Despite having a variety of themes to choose from, there are only a limited number of free themes available. Paid themes can cost anywhere from $140 to $350. Shopify themes may be harder to customize, and some changes can only be done by a developer unless you have coding knowledge. Due to limited design and customizations, Shopify stores tend to look the same.
- Maintaining a store can become expensive. The base price for a standard plan is $39 monthly with limited free features. However, that price can quickly increase if you want to purchase or subscribe to certain apps to add functionality to your website. If you need to scale your business, the next plan up is $105 a month plus monthly subscription fees may no longer make Shopify an affordable option for new e-commerce stores.
- Shopify’s customer support can be slow and unresponsive. If you have a problem with your store, you may have to wait a long time to get help.
- There is no built-in email hosting. One of the benefits of having a self-hosted account is to be able to create your own email account – email@example.com. Email forwarding is an option, but that requires set up by a third-party email host which is another monthly or yearly cost.
- Shopify online stores have SEO built in and features to help you optimize your content. However, the most common SEO challenge of Shopify is implementing canonical URLs, automatic breadcrumb navigation, no custom tag pages, and duplicate content.
Wix is a popular cloud-based website builder. Individuals and small business owners are given tools to build a beautiful and professional-looking website. Although Wix is a free service to start, users can opt-in to improve their website functionality by subscribing to premium plans, one of which is an e-commerce platform.
Wix is known for its beginner-friendly design and simple processes. The intuitive drag-and-drop site editor capability allows for customization with ready-made designer templates based on your business need or industry. In addition to creating a beautiful website, Wix allows one year of free domain name registration, web hosting, security (SSL certificate), 24/7 support, and a host of other out-of-the-box features to showcase a professional site.
Wix’s e-commerce platform allows for various business types – physical and digital goods products, dropshipping, print-on-demand, services & membership, and multiple channel sales to sell across social media platforms (Facebook and Instagram).
Wix has three business and e-commerce plans.
- Business Basic ($27 month): Accept online payments
- Business Unlimited ($32 month): Grow your business
- Business VIP plan ($59 month): Get the full suite
Before choosing Wix, consider some of the disadvantages.
- Wix makes it easy to build a website, but once it’s built and goes live you cannot change your site template later. You are stuck with the design you initially selected. This can become a barrier as your new business takes shape and grows.
- If you outgrow Wix and decide to move on to a new e-commerce platform, you cannot migrate your website data elsewhere. You will need to create a new website from scratch which will be time-consuming and require more financial resources.
- An older website built with Wix is not fully responsive. With approximately half of the web traffic being generated from mobile devices, it is critical to ensure your website has a responsive web design. Take advantage of Wix mobile-friendly options by rebuilding your current Wix website using the Wix mobile-site-building tool.
Squarespace is an all-in-one solution for small business owners and solopreneurs looking to create a beautiful website. As of November 2022, it has more than four million subscriptions. It is a hosted business and e-commerce solution that gives users with minimal technical skills the ability to get started online with their own website.
Squarespace is known for its very attractive and contemporary templates. With over 100 templates, there are plenty of options to choose from for the business or industry of your choice. A unique feature of Squarespace is having access to all of Unsplash’s library of royalty-free images to add directly to your website. All templates are fully responsive, meaning that your site design will automatically adjust to appear correctly on the device you are using to view the website. This makes your website more accessible and provides some SEO benefits. Additionally, AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) on your Squarespace website will speed up the delivery of the content on your mobile devices through the use of stripped-down code known as AMP HTML.
In addition, Squarespace is an all-in-one platform that includes built-in analytics. Unlike other e-commerce platforms, Squarespace has full blogging capabilities. In addition, it offers a free domain name with a purchase of an annual plan, free WHOIS privacy, SSL certificate, web hosting, 24/7 support via email & live chats, and a host of other out-of-the-box features to manage your e-commerce website.
Squarespace has a 14-day free trial period and their pricing is based on annual and monthly terms.
- Personal: $16 month annually or $23 monthly
- Business: $23 month annually or $33 monthly
- Basic Commerce: $27 month annually or $36 monthly
- Advanced Commerce: $49 month annually or $65 monthly
Before choosing Squarespace, consider some of the disadvantages.
- There is no phone support for immediate support. All support requests are via email or online chat. This can delay troubleshooting easy-to-fix problems with your website.
- There is a learning curve to get a feel for the interface when editing and adding content. Adding new pages, setting up a new blog, or trying to edit your design templates is a challenge. If you want to add or move elements, the process can be time-consuming.
- Squarespace has improved its SEO capabilities to add a site/page title and descriptions; however, changing version templates can negatively impact the overall site SEO. Squarespace offers a checklist of best practices when changing templates.
- Squarespace is pricey. For advanced e-commerce, the monthly fee is $49 a month annually and $65 monthly. For a monthly plan, that’s $780 a year for a fully functional e-commerce website that you don’t have 100% control over. You could purchase a year of web hosting and domain registration for half the price.
In conclusion, Big Cartel, Shopify, Wix, and Squarespace each have pros and cons, but the platform you choose should depend on the type of e-commerce shop or business you plan to open. Cost may be your biggest consideration, but there are other important components to consider when deciding on a business platform – SEO capability, scalability, mobile-friendliness, site speed, user experience, and software integration.
When maintaining an e-commerce website, you won’t have the benefit of having a marketplace on Etsy to rely on which means you must learn how to drive traffic to your website through creative marketing strategies and social media engagement. Have good intentions when looking for creative ways to engage and redirect Etsy customers to a new site without spamming them with unsolicited emails.
- Add a business card or an insert into Etsy packaging to engage interest in your new website.
- Drive potential customers to your website by offering your full product line while limiting inventory options on Etsy.
- Offer discounts, free shipping, and other incentives on your website that potential customers cannot get from your Etsy shop.
- When promoting on social media, YouTube, or other media platforms, direct all links to the website, not Etsy.
- No matter what you do to drive potential customers to your website, always make shopping on your website a more appealing option than on your Etsy shop.
- Build an opt-in email list. An email marketing list is one of the oldest and primary tactics to drive traffic to your website and communicate directly with your customers. It has been proven highly effective in today’s e-commerce space.
When starting a new website as an alternative to Etsy, my best advice is to consider a platform where you feel you can comfortably set up your shop in a way that is both easy for you to use and for your customers to buy from. A successful website will require work on your product, understanding your customer and how to market to them, as well as having the right e-commerce platform to facilitate sales. Finally, whatever platform you choose, weigh the advantages vs. disadvantages, and seek out advice before making a time and financial commitment.
How can Plan in Action Web Services Help?
Send a message and let’s discuss how I can help you plan a road map to transition your business beyond Etsy to your own website.